Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
Spring 1937. In the four years since she left England, Maisie Dobbs has experienced love, contentment, stability—and the deepest tragedy a woman can endure. Now, all she wants is the peace she believes she might find by returning to India. But her sojourn in the hills of Darjeeling is cut short when her stepmother summons her home to England; her aging father Frankie Dobbs is not getting any younger.
But on a ship bound for England, Maisie realizes she isn’t ready to return. Against the wishes of the captain who warns her, “You will be alone in a most dangerous place,” she disembarks in Gibraltar. Though she is on her own, Maisie is far from alone: the British garrison town is teeming with refugees fleeing a brutal civil war across the border in Spain.
Yet the danger is very real. Days after Maisie’s arrival, a photographer and member of Gibraltar’s Sephardic Jewish community, Sebastian Babayoff, is murdered, and Maisie becomes entangled in the case, drawing the attention of the British Secret Service. Under the suspicious eye of a British agent, Maisie is pulled deeper into political intrigue on “the Rock”—arguably Britain’s most important strategic territory—and renews an uneasy acquaintance in the process. At a crossroads between her past and her future, Maisie must choose a direction, knowing that England is, for her, an equally dangerous place, but in quite a different way.
If you're a reader of the Maisie Dobbs books, you'll know that Winspear has spent quite a lot of time building up Maisie's relationship with James Compton. Winspear never resorted to the easy to exploit rich-family-looks-down-on-son's-relationship-with-the-help's-daughter scheme. Neither did she rush Maisie down the aisle; instead, making the relationship between James and Maisie more complicated and interesting in a time when young women were more likely to be looking to get married rather than to become career women. The problem, of course, is that, eventually, something had to happen, given that James wanted to be married. In A Dangerous Place, Winspear finally had to make the decision about how she was going to work around that. But Winspear never wanted to write that kind of book. Hence, "the deepest tragedy," which felt rushed to me, although I understood dwelling on it was not the book Maisie Dobbs fans want to read nor, perhaps, the kind of book Winspear wants to write. It doesn't, however, simply disappear.
In A Dangerous Place, we meet a deeply wounded Maisie, struggling to find a way to move forward and unsure if she even wants to do that. But when she, literally, stumbles across a murdered man, Maisie finds herself drawn into solving a case that the police already consider solved. More and more, as she digs deeper into the man's history, Maisie finds herself again. When news arrives about the slaughter in Guernica, that tragedy begins to help Maisie deal with her own grief. But it also brings to the fore all of the political elements at play and throws a new light onto Maisie's investigation.
|Pablo Picasso's iconic "Guernica"|
A Dangerous Place gives Maisie Dobbs fans exactly what they want from one of Winspear's novels - a murder mystery with a deeper context (here the Spanish Civil War), an intelligent heroine with a full life, and a balance of light and dark. Sometimes that lightness gets in the way for me (I don't really need to know what outfit Maisie selected to wear each day), but I always appreciate Winspear's ability to use events of the past to address problems we still struggle with today.
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Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, which includes In This Grave Hour, Journey to Munich, A Dangerous Place, Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, and eight other novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller and a Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.
Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.